Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Monday, January 12, 2009

From the Big House to a Rental Home

As landlords, Alf and Jeannie Gizzo have a ready supply of tenants for their two rental properties.

Their fledgling real estate company, Earthwalker Property Solutions LLC, is one of just five Denver-area companies registered as a vendor to the Colorado Department of Corrections. That status gives them referrals of recent parolees looking for housing in exchange for an agreement to rent exclusively to ex-offenders.

"It is an extremely underserved market," said Jeannie Gizzo.

Upon checking applicants' backgrounds, most property owners will automatically reject parolees and ex-convicts. But the potential for trouble doesn't discourage the Gizzos, who say they're motivated by a desire to do good.

"It fits our values," said

The Gizzos only lease to nonviolent ex-offenders, whose crimes tend to be related to family, money or drugs and alcohol.

"We look at people on a case-by- case basis," Alf Gizzo said.

Statewide, there are 13 landlords who are registered vendors to the Department of Corrections. Those landlords own a total of 27 eligible homes, according to Heather Elliott, the department's manager of offender programs.

"Obviously, a landlord can rent to anyone," Elliott said. Vendor status is not required to do that. But by registering with the state, property owners such as the Gizzos get referrals from pre-release specialists working within the prisons and community re -entry specialists working with parole officers.

In exchange, landlords agree to various terms, including renting exclusively to ex-offenders on parole. Prison officials think it's better that way, because parolees tend to be in the same boat, often monitored for substance abuse and visited regularly at home by parole officers.

The Department of Corrections provides a "template" of rules for the landlord. If the rules aren't enforced, the landlord won't get tenant referrals in the future.

No smoking indoors or overnight guests, for example, are rules are suggested by the DOC.

Many tenants are banned from using drugs and alcohol, but it depends on terms of the individual's parole. The Gizzos have established some additional rules of their own. Tenants must clean up after themselves and shovel the walk, for example.

One of the Gizzos' homes sits on a quiet, working-class street in southwest Denver. Five men share the 1,000-square-foot home, and resident David Ling said it's not difficult getting along with his roommates.

The key is to "leave my problems at the door" when arriving home, said Ling, 37, who has been

The Denver Post


Anonymous said...

It is commendable that these people are offering to do this. However, with over 8,500 parolees, there needs to be a state law that discrimination is outlawed in housing and that every landlord MUST accept all applications, including the Federal programs for housing. We have housing laws that prevent discrimination on sexual orientation, race, and gender.
The state-wide figure of 13 DOC vendors is laughable.
My friend was put into the "animal" house, a known drug den, by the DOC because DOC could not find any other housing for him. Known drug dealers brought in a wanted criminal, whom the DOC parole officer shot dead, when he was conducting a night "visit", alone, of the known drug den. John Wayne killed a man 3 feet from my friend's head. DOC locked him up to keep him from revealing the truth about what happened. I had to get a state legislator, John Kefalas, to question DOC about their procedures, to get him released from county jail. DOC then charged him with not reporting his "arrest" and illegally put him back into prison for the remainder of his 33 month term.

Anonymous said...

The DOC and parole seems to be a joke in its entirety. The empire should be redone starting at the top. A small state like Colorado doesnt need to have 23000 people locked up, and still trying to build prisons in a depression??
A beginning would be to quit electing prosecutors to be your Governor. The only thing he knows is how to put people in prison, not get them out?? djw

Anonymous said...

Bill Owens is to blame for the mess called DOC and he was no prosecutor. Although Ritter could be doing better he is at least trying. He raised the level of property damage to 1,000 before it becomes a felony, which Owens vetoed twice!

Either way, I've heard from people at Cheyenne Mountain who are being pressured by their case managers to come up with the money to move into one of these properties...sounds like the case manager might be one of their investors!

Anonymous said...


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